Edinburgh International Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary with a cracking programme of bold work. Music, opera and dance are also on the table but I’ve focused on their theatre offerings here
Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, one of Europe’s most important theatre companies, takes up residence at the 2022 International Festival with two epic shows from their repertoire, A Little Life and The Magic Mountain, as well as presenting a new adaption of The End of Eddy by Toneelschuur Producties. Acclaimed director Ivo van Hove adapts Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life for the theatre into a deeply moving performance of epic proportions, featuring Dutch actor Ramsey Nasr who won the Louis d’Or (Best Male Performance) for his portrayal of central character Jude. Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, widely considered one of the most influential works of twentieth-century German literature, is adapted by radical theatre makers Stef Aerts and Marie Vinck (FC Bergman), into an epic work for contemporary audiences.
Norwegian director Eline Arbo adapts The End of Eddy, Édouard Louis’ autobiographical novel about growing up gay and poor in rural France, into a dazzling, unpredictable show mixing text, choreography and music. Internationaal Theater Amsterdam’s residency is supported by James and Morag Anderson.
Former Scots Makar Liz Lochhead makes her International Festival debut with her modern adaptation of Medea, in a contemporary re-telling packed with lyrical intensity and poetic flair. In this new production from the National Theatre of Scotland, the title role is played by award-winning performer Adura Onashile, with the production directed by Michael Boyd, former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Lochhead’s Medea was first staged in Glasgow in 2000 by Theatre Babel, before going on to tour nationally, as well as visiting the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in both 2000 and 2001, where it played to critical and audience acclaim.
Burn is a creative collaboration between Scottish artist Alan Cumming and the Olivier award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett (Black Watch, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). Co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland, Edinburgh International Festival and New York City’s The Joyce Theater, this powerful new piece of dance theatre challenges the traditional ‘biscuit tin’ image of Scotland’s national bard and explores his personal struggles and spectacular successes. Performed by Alan Cumming in his solo dance theatre debut, Burn features the music of acclaimed contemporary musician and composer Anna Meredith, with visually arresting set and video design by Ana Inés Jabares Pita and Lewis den Hertog. Burn is supported by Sir Ewan and Lady Brown.
Following his sell-out 2016 show The Toad Knew, James Thierrée returns to the International Festival with ROOM, a new show that blends live music, dance, mime and curiosities into a hallucinatory spectacle that defiantly rejects categorisation. One of Europe’s most extraordinary and versatile artists, Thierrée uses his talents to create magical dream-like performances that captivate, charm and inspire. ROOM is supported by Sir Ewan and Lady Brown.
Featuring 19 different performers hailing from six different countries, Counting and Cracking follows the journey of one Sri Lankan-Australian family over four generations, from 1956 to 2004. Written by S. Shakthidharan, a Sri Lankan-Australian who researched and developed the work over the course of ten years, the play tells the tale of two countries: Sri Lanka post-independence and Australia as an immigrant nation. It is directed by award-winning Eamon Flack, Artistic Director of Belvoir, one of Australia’s most celebrated theatre companies.
Muster Station: Leith is a new immersive, promenade performance created by multi-award-winning theatre company Grid Iron. Commissioned to mark the culmination of the International Festival’s four-year residency at Leith Academy, Muster Station: Leith takes audiences on a journey through the school as they shelter from an unknown external crisis. Students from Leith Academy will have the opportunity to contribute to the production creatively, as well as gain qualifications through participation in technical theatre and front of house skills development workshops, supported by the International Festival’s Learning & Engagement Partner Baillie Gifford Investment Managers.
Rwandan artist and activist Odile Gakire Katese, in collaboration with award-winning theatre group Volcano Canada and her own Woman Cultural Centre, Rwanda, crafts The Book of Life, a theatre work exploring resilience, reconciliation and healing 25 years after the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The Ingoma Nshya, the internationally acclaimed Women Drummers of Rwanda, shatter the cultural norms that forbade women from taking part in this art form, performing onstage alongside Katese and a backdrop of live shadow puppetry.
Australian actor and presenter Julia Hales has watched every single episode of Home and Away, but she’s never seen another person with Down Syndrome in the cast. In You Know We Belong Together, Julia and a cast of six actors put their own lives on stage, sharing their experiences through monologues, sketches, video, dance and song to call for greater inclusivity for a community rarely represented on stage or screen.
When You Walk Over My Grave recounts the last days of Franco-Uruguayan playwright Sergio Blanco, in a piece of contemporary theatre that is comedic, moving, visceral and intellectual.
Zimbabwean writer, performer and curator mandla rae asks powerful questions about belonging, trauma and forgiveness in as british as a watermelon, while Detention Dialogues, from ice&fire Actors for Human Rights and Scottish Detainee Visitors, features a series of verbatim scripts featuring the voices of refugees from different countries.